Acute kidney symptoms: Urgent warning after nearly 200 children die from contaminated cough syrup in Indonesia

The deaths of nearly 200 children in Indonesia are linked to contaminated cough syrup.

Health authorities have linked acute kidney injury (AKI) to various cough syrups in hundreds of children, most of whom are under the age of six.

The deaths of at least 199 people, mostly children, led to an investigation and the banning of some sales of liquid medicines, Channel News Asia reported.

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In October, some syrup-based medicines were banned from sale in Indonesia after the presence of ethylene glycol and diethylene glycol was detected.

Health Ministry spokesman Mohammad Syahril said 206 cases of acute kidney injury in children were being investigated.

“As a precaution, the ministry has asked health workers in health facilities to temporarily refrain from prescribing liquid medicines or syrups,” he said.

“We are also asking that drugstores temporarily suspend the sale of non-prescription liquid medicines or syrups until our investigations are complete.”

The ban came after the World Health Organization (WHO) linked four Indian-made cough syrups to a handful of deaths of children suffering from acute kidney failure in The Gambia, West Africa.

A pharmacist empties a shelf filled with syrup at a pharmacy in Indonesia. Credit: Andry Denisah/SOPA Images/Sipa USA via CNN

The effects of the toxic substances allegedly contained in these cough syrups have included abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, inability to urinate, headache and acute kidney damage which can lead to death.

Indian authorities closed a factory in New Delhi that was making the drugs in October.

The WHO suspects that four of the syrups manufactured by Maiden Pharmaceuticals Limited – Promethazine oral solution, Kofexmaline baby cough syrup, Makoff baby cough syrup and Magrip N cold syrup – contained “unacceptable levels” of chemicals.

These chemicals are believed to damage the brain, lungs, liver, and kidneys of those who ingest them.

Indonesian Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said ethylene glycol and diethylene glycol – which are more commonly found in products such as antifreeze, brake fluid, paint, plastics and cosmetics – have been detected in syrups found in the homes of some child patients.

“(The chemicals) shouldn’t have been there,” Budi said.

He added that the number of cases of acute kidney failure could be higher than reported and his ministry is taking a conservative approach by banning the sale of all syrups.

WHO advice

The WHO says it is “important to identify and phase out these substandard products” to avoid harm.

“The WHO calls for increased monitoring and due diligence within the supply chains of countries and regions likely to be affected by these products,” it said.

“Increased surveillance of the informal/unregulated market is also recommended. National regulatory/health authorities are advised to notify WHO immediately if these substandard products are detected in their respective country.”

However, at the individual consumer level, the WHO strongly warns anyone in possession of these “inferior products” to stop using them immediately.

“If you have these inferior products, please DO NOT use them,” it said.

“If you or someone you know has used them or experienced an adverse reaction/event after use, you are advised to seek immediate medical advice from a qualified healthcare professional and to report the incident to the national regulatory authority or national pharmacovigilance center .”

– With CNN

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Shock moment Slingshot ride in Hyde Park. Acute kidney symptoms: Urgent warning after nearly 200 children die from contaminated cough syrup in Indonesia

James Brien

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